Flunked, for the first time
“You have had full needle deflection twice on this approach,” he explained. I was dumbfounded. I had not seen full needle deflection — not once and certainly not twice. It was a coupled approach. The autopilot had remained on task. The airplane had performed as I would have expected. I had seen exactly this scenario many times while flying Part 135. What happened?
If you look back at any adverse event critically enough, you will see that the events that led up to the failure are easy to trace — in hindsight. So it was with this, my first test failure. It began with my decision to get a type rating in a Premier 1 in the airplane rather than in a simulator. As chronicled previously in these pages, my wife, Cathy, and I had recently decided to go all in and buy a jet for the last years of my flying career. It had been a dream and hope of mine for as long as I have had memory.
The “in-airplane” type rating had appeal: I would learn in my airplane, hear the actual sounds and feel the actual seat-of-pants forces. I had learned to fly a previously owned Cessna 340 and a Piper Cheyenne this way. The cost was $15,000 for the training and check ride. This sounded like a bargain compared to simulator training, which costs almost twice as much for a complete course and check ride. I brushed by the fact that in-airplane training in a Premier costs about $2,000 per flight hour. When all was said and done, I would have been better off going to FlightSafety.
Two days of ground school were tutored one-on-one by a highly knowledgeable instructor, an employee of the training company. After that, the company arranged for the instructor to fly commercially to Wichita, Kansas, to pick up the newly purchased dream airplane and fly it with me to my home base in Lebanon, New Hampshire. My in-airplane instruction would start with real-world experience.
We took off one splendid September
“Richard, you have failed this portion of the check ride. You will not be getting a type rating today.” My first thought was the designated examiner had made a mistake.